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Others want someone to share their passion for mountain biking, or table tennis, or the theatre, or for getting stoned. They aren't on the lookout for curvy women or men who boast about how good they are in bed, and explicitly detail the reason why.
"The plan would be sitting around chilling, smoking, listening to some dirty, dirty dubstep. " says a 20 year-old west Londoner looking for "some honest platonic fun". They are browsing, posting and reading adverts on the internet, in this instance on new website Rentafriend, seeking – and offering – the company of strangers, for friendship only.
The web already caters for everything from S&M addicts desperately seeking a new master, to Orthodox Jews looking to find their bashert (destined love). "We have zero tolerance if a friend says they were solicited.
Now, despite – or, perhaps, because of – the proliferation of social networking websites, it is helping people make friends. There's no second chance." And he may be on to something. Craig's List, the phenomenally successful listings website, has a popular section called Strictly Platonic, in which users seek companions for everything from museum visits or shopping outings to coffee and conversation, echoing the growing popularity nationwide of salons, book groups and cultural forums. I enjoy writing, watching a good chick-flick film or reading a girlie novel…
"It requires a high level of trust to allow a partner to have a so-called platonic relationship." Famously, Billy Crystal's character in the film When Harry Met Sally opines that men and women can never be friends "because the sex part always gets in the way".
But for the most part, the Rentafriend phenomenon is not about members of the opposite sex getting together.
The Big Short, the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' book of the same name about the causes of the financial crisis, opens in UK cinemas this weekend."Any creative, interesting people want to meet for a coffee/drink? "I would like to get to know other FEMALES aged between 24-50.PLEASE, no MALES and I am only looking for FRIENDSHIP!It would be great to hear from any girlies who'd like to be my friend!Katie x." Familiar as we are with virtual communication, advertising for someone to talk to does seem rather sad. According to Danny Dorling, professor of human geography at Sheffield University, it has.